P90/single Tele combo and Stephenson Design pups

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by fabiomayo, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. fabiomayo

    fabiomayo Member

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    Niteroi - RJ, Brazil
    Hi, y'all...

    I'm planning on upgrading my tele soon. Better yet, experiment a bit since it already sounds good. I was wondering if you could suggest a good P90 neck and single-coil bridge combo for it. Also, a good replacement bridge. I know Callaham is raved a lot but it is also known to cause a bit of "twang loss", am I right?

    The guitar is hand-built by a local luthier featuring a 1-piece walnut neck (and fingerboard), 1-piece body (can't translate sorry, but wood is Vinhatico), tall jumbo frets, handwound P90, Fender bridge single-coil (stock from an Am Std Tele) and unknown bridge. Mods I'd like to and/or ought to make: 1) A new nut (the current one is badly cut making string spacing uneven and outer strings too close to fingerboard limits); 2) String-through-body holes; 3) New bridge (the current one is kinda crappy), probably a three saddle; 4) 4-way switching; 5) And last, pickups. I'd like to experiment specially with the bridge one, but also try another P90. Can anyone recommend a good pickup combo that retains the "Tele flavour" and luckily doesn't kill it's more rockin' vibe? I play mostly blues and am looking for a little more warmth from both pickups, though still not in humbucker territory. I'd like the bridge pup to retain as much twang as possible - otherwise I'd have another guitar instead of a tele, right? :cool: - but bear in mind I'm not a country picker...

    I was thinking maybe a Lollar P90 and Fralin bridge, both Lollars or Stephenson Design pickups. On the latter, I couldn't find much around here. Anyone has tried or uses this pickups? From Stephenson I'm also interested in the Kay Bar (humbucker sized P90) for the bridge of my Epi Sheraton and the Little Charlie for the neck...


    Thanks a lot for any tips you might have...



    Here's the guitar:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. fabiomayo

    fabiomayo Member

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    Niteroi - RJ, Brazil
    Anyone?

    Here's more info. I like the P90 a lot, especially its deep bass response. But it is too 'humbucker voiced', even a bit muddy at times. What I want to hear is the same general tone but with a bit more single coil clarity - not necessarily brightness. That makes sense? The bridge is a bit harsh, overly bright for my tastes and maybe too weak. I don't know but I guess I'm looking for something with a bit more power and maybe a bit more mid heavy...

    Any ideas?

    Thanks
     
  3. RedLizard

    RedLizard Member

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    I just built up a tele with a Lollar P-90 neck and Fralin Blues Special bridge yesterday. Alder body with one piece maple neck (soon to be rosewood board).

    It's a bit soon to make any permanent decisions, but my first impression is that the Lollar is just a bit dark/boomy, while the Fralin is a bit bright. The middle position is just a tad too bright and boomy.

    I used 250K pots and 0.047 capacitor. I think I will fiddle with the pots and caps to try and dial it in, so that the Lollar is a little brighter and the Fralin a little warmer.

    Volume-wise, they are very balanced.

    All things considered, it sounds better than I expected, even though I haven't tweaked it yet.
     
  4. jetlag

    jetlag Member

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    Regarding Dave's (Stephens Design) pickups: I have a strat set that Dave wound for me. They sound great. You have a bit of a dilema with your setup in that the volume pot value will be optimized for one pickup at the expense of the other. A 250K pot sounds good with fender type single coils while a 500 K typically sounds best with P90's. I would get your set of pickups from the same place/guy/whatever and let him know what you are upto. That way they can wind the pickups with that in mind. For example, maybe wind a stock P90 front with a really hot back tele pickup. That way, a 500K pot might sound good with both. Or a stock tele back pu with an underwound P90 in front with a 250K pot.
     
  5. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    RedLizard, that seems to be the challenge of the Tele with P-90 neck -- each pickup seems to bring out the worst in the other. What's bright becomes BRIGHT, and what's dark becomes muddy. Even if you get the volume/output balanced, the disparity in tone can be challenging. That's why I went with a Steelpole; it's brighter than a P-90, but not as bright as even a moderately hot bridge pup like a BS.

    The pot issue is also significant, but a good P-90 in a fairly bright sounding instrument can still sound great with 250k pots.

    Had I to do it all over again, I'd probably get a somewhat underwound P-90 and a warmer sounding, although not necessarily super-hot, bridge pickup. And I'd likely get them from Lollar -- his P-90s are fantastic, and his Tele pickups seem to have a little more warmth & girth than Fralins (I've only directly compared their vintage winds.)
     
  6. RedLizard

    RedLizard Member

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    Hey Crazy,

    I may yet end up with a Lollar Special bridge, or at least a Fralin steel pole. I had the Blues Special handy, so figured I'd try it first. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how well they balanced volume-wise and hoping that a little tweaking might still save the combination.

    I'm changing my neck from maple to rosewood in about a month, so don't want to make any final decisions until after that. In the meantime, I've got a few caps and some alternate wirings I can try. Unlike a Strat, it's so easy to pop the hood and change things, that I don't mind screwing around. I think I might record some of each combination I try and see if that can help guide me. Too hard to compare otherwise and my ears might lie to me. The neck actually sounded better when I was playing against some backing tracks than it did in isolation.
     
  7. fabiomayo

    fabiomayo Member

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    Location:
    Niteroi - RJ, Brazil
    Thanks y'all for your responses.

    RedLizard - I share your same experience except with my own pickups. Neck a bit too boomy and muddy, bridge just too bright and thin, with no body. The middle position is actually nice but a bit 'hard' and more on the bright side, with a certain 'ice-pick' quality to it that I don't care for. Voume-wise they are fairly balanced but I guess I could raise the bridge pup a bit.

    jetlag - Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions. It really is more likely to achieve better results mixing these two types of pickups if they're wound by the same builder.

    Crazyquilt - The Steelpoles have already been recommended over at the telecaster forum and I'm also interested in them.

    As for the pot thing, I guess it is possible to find a happy medium, especially if I accept your suggestions of higher output bridge and underwound P90.

    What I know now is that I'll keep my choices between Lollar or Fralin and perhaps Stephenson.


    I welcome any more opinions you might have and thank you all one more time.

    All the best
     
  8. fabiomayo

    fabiomayo Member

    Messages:
    172
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Location:
    Niteroi - RJ, Brazil
    Thanks y'all for your responses.

    RedLizard - I share your same experience except with my own pickups. Neck a bit too boomy and muddy, bridge just too bright and thin, with no body. The middle position is actually nice but a bit 'hard' and more on the bright side, with a certain 'ice-pick' quality to it that I don't care for. Voume-wise they are fairly balanced but I guess I could raise the bridge pup a bit.

    jetlag - Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions. It really is more likely to achieve better results mixing these two types of pickups if they're wound by the same builder.

    Crazyquilt - The Steelpoles have already been recommended over at the telecaster forum and I'm also interested in them.

    As for the pot thing, I guess it is possible to find a happy medium, especially if I accept your suggestions of higher output bridge and underwound P90.

    What I know now is that I'll keep my choices between Lollar or Fralin and perhaps Stephenson.


    I welcome any more opinions you might have and thank you all one more time.

    All the best
     
  9. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    Jul 5, 2005
    Yah, Fabio -- I was the one who suggested the SP's over at TDPRI, which is why I didn't belabor the point here. ;)
     

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